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Back in 1998, I first saw the Monaro concept displayed at the Sydney Motor Show and once the real thing hit Australia's streets in 2001, I couldn't figure out why North America couldn't join in the fun. The Mustang Fox-platform was long in the tooth and the deathwatch for the Camaro and Firebird was in full swing. What was a V-8 coupe-lover to do?

When the GTO was announced in 2003, everyone couldn?t wait for the first shipment from Australia until the staid styling and greedy dealers sent 2004 sales nowhere near what GM had hoped for. For 2005 the Pontiac GTO gets the fire-breathing LS2 6.0-liter with 400 horsepower and 400 lb ft or torque. Other changes address complaints that enthusiasts voiced like hood scoops, huge split dual exhaust system, larger brakes and a dead pedal.

2005 Pontiac GTO AG

To be honest, I?ve had no problems with the look of the GTO. I liked the Monaro, and like the interpretation as a modern GTO. Yes the design could be more agressive, but the car would have never made it these shores if it needed a complete redesign. A few heritage cues may have helped, though I?m convinced if this car came wearing the name ?G8?, the noise about its design would have been a lot lower. Just look at the Charger complaints.

2005 Pontiac GTO AG

The GTO has to have one of the nicest interiors available from GM today. Ship some of these Holden guys over to North America. Its comfortable, uses great looking materials and thoughtful touches like the color-coded gauge faces, which gives the air of ?perceived? quality.

We have a week with the Yellow Jacket Pontiac GTO to shake out the new engine and see if the tweaks have won the critics over.

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